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The British scientist responsible for starting the autism-MMR vaccine hoax not only falsified his data, but sought to profit from it, according to a report published Tuesday in the British Medical Journal.

Andrew Wakefield, who has been stripped of his medical license and whose study has since been retracted, explored business opportunities designed to capitalize on his fraudulent findings, according to the BMJ. The businesses were intended to earn huge sums of money in Britain and the U.S. — up to $40 million a year — by providing unique diagnostic services to test for the presence of measles in patients with Crohn’s disease.

Wakefield planned to develop his own supposedly safer vaccines after public fears were sufficiently stoked, according to the report, a two-part investigation by British investigative journalist Brian Deer. He outlines how Wakefield accepted fees from a lawyer who eventually filed (and lost) an autism-vaccine lawsuit.

The story also describes how the Royal Free Medical School in London supported Wakefield, who wrote an 11-page business plan while his first patient was still in the hospital.

The scheme was predicated on a link among vaccines, autism and bowel problems.

Wakefield’s 1998 paper in The Lancet claimed a link between autism and the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella, launching an international backlash against childhood vaccinations. But the research was discredited by follow-up studies, and none has ever established a link between vaccinations and autism. The Lancet formally retracted the study in February 2010.

Last week, Deer also outlined discrepancies and falsifications in Wakefield’s data, including the nugget that his study included data from 12 children but he studied at least 13, including some who showed symptoms of autism before they were vaccinated.

Wakefield told CNN the allegations were false: “The findings that we have made have been replicated in five countries around the world,” he said.

Wakefield’s research has been widely discredited, but he is a hero to a small, vocal cadre of supporters who believe the medical establishment has been trying to silence him. Now that they know he’s been exposed as a huckster as well as a fraud, perhaps they will think twice.

BMJ

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